They say that good things come in small packages, and while this may not always be a firm rule to live by, there's a definite ring of truth when it comes to coffee. A shot of quality espresso represents the drink in maybe its purest form: rich, creamy, short, and strong. It can also form the basis of myriad milky coffee concoctions, but it's in espresso's unadulterated state that coffee lovers can pursue their passion with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of enjoyment. Unfortunately for the espresso devotee, this is also one of the most difficult coffees to enjoy without employing the steaming machines of your local coffee house. Many domestic coffee makers offer an espresso option, but often provide disappointing results. This all being said, can the Francis Francis X9 Espresso Machine change that? Check out our Francis Francis X9 Espresso Machine review below to find out.
A Specialist Espresso Maker
The first thing to note is that this is no all-singing, all-dancing coffee machine. If you're hoping for a cappuccino or a skinny latte, you'll need to look elsewhere – or at least buy the optional frothing attachment. The Francis Francis X9 is aimed squarely at the keen espresso drinker, and makes only two variations on the theme, standard espresso and espresso lungi, and those only in a single serving at a time. Given these limitations, exactly how does the resulting espresso measure up?
Rich Arabica Capsules
The Francis Francis X9 Espresso Machine uses iperEspresso capsules from the baristas' favorite brand Illy. These pods contain 100% Arabica grounds, measured to perfection, resulting in a consistently rich and smooth cup every time. Further, the robust 15-bar pressure mechanism delivers the essential crema that distinguishes a real espresso from any stove-top approximation or the product of an inferior machine.
Be aware however that the range of capsules available from iperEspresso is a little more limited than those offered by rivals Nespresso, but the X9 isn't about providing variety – it's strictly concerned with specialist quality for those who are serious about espresso, and the results bear out the soundness of that philosophy. The iperEspresso capsule is known for its deeply rich espresso flavor and can stand toe to toe with the best espresso capsules on the market.
Stylish, Compact Design
Highly successful as it is in providing excellent espresso at the touch of a button, it's in its stylish and compact design that the X9 really stands out from the crowd. Its curved edges and chromed stainless steel finish certainly give off an air of modern sophistication, an effect only enhanced by the illumination of the dispensing area during brewing – try using glass cups for maximum visual impact to wow your guests.
These great looks aren't at the expense of utility, however. The X9 is remarkably compact, measuring a mere 4.8×10.6×10.8 inches, making it simple to fit into even the most crowded of kitchens. Despite the machine's diminutive size, the removable water tank has a decent capacity of 23.7oz for up to ten espresso lungo servings (or 20 hits of regular one-shot espresso), and it's possible to refill the tank even while the machine is working.
Lastly, keeping the Francis Francis X9 espresso machine clean is a breeze. The internal waste bay has space for up to ten spent capsules, and it's simple to remove it for emptying. While not a make or break quality of an espresso machine, it's certainly a very welcomed bonus.
The Francis Francis X9 Espresso Machine Verdict
Those espresso drinkers who value purity and quality over versatility will really appreciate the Francis Francis X9 espresso machine. This model wasn't designed for flexibility – quite the opposite, its sole aim is to provide impeccably high-quality espresso or espresso lungi at the touch of a button, with the minimum of fuss and effort. It achieves this very well, and its superbly sophisticated looks only add to its all-round attractiveness. If you're a serious espresso enthusiast with an eye for style, the Francis Francis X9 makes for an extremely solid choice.
If you'd like to share your thoughts on this espresso machine and submit a Francis Francis X9 espresso machine review, we'd love to hear from you.